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The LGBTQ community is filled with innovators who have faced adversity in their personal lives. These industrialists inspire others through their entrepreneurial spirit and perseverance. Thanks to shows like Netflix’s Queer Eye, the world has been introduced to five makeover experts who teach compassion and self-care. But did you know one member of Queer Eye’s Fab Five is also secretly an entrepreneur?
Bobby Berk the Business Guy
There is an ongoing joke that Bobby Berk is the most underrated member of the Fab Five. While Antoni is busy putting avocado on toast and Karamo is pushing people out of trees, Bobby is busy renovating people’s entire homes. But the editing doesn’t tell you the full story. Every member helps out and Bobby actually has a full team during the remodeling process. They work from Tuesday evening to Friday morning. That’s a major overhaul in just three and half days. Any home remodeler will tell you that’s no easy feat.
While each member of the Fab Five does play a unique role, Bobby is the only one who currently runs his own business. In 2011, Tan France founded Kingdom & State, a women’s clothing line, which he sold shortly after signing onto Queer Eye. During hiatus, each of the Fab Five work on personal projects and now four out of the five have published books. Bobby is the only one who hasn’t written a book, however he has been busy with other ventures.
In 2006, Bobby founded his own online retail store called Bobby Berk Home, which launched into a full-service bespoke interior design practice in 2015. While his success as a lucrative businessman started years before his stint on Queer Eye, the road to entrepreneurship was rocky, to say the least.
From High School Dropout to Creative Director
Bobby grew up in the Bible Belt of America and has spoken out about the internalized homophobia he experienced as a Christian. In a very emotional scene during season two of Queer Eye, Bobby refuses to step foot inside a church. Traumatized by the hate towards gay people he faced as a child, it was hard for him to reconcile his past. Having been shunned by his adoptive family, he left home at age fifteen and did everything he had to in order to survive. This included working at restaurants for minimum wage and sleeping in his car between shifts. Eventually, he decided to move up north.
When he arrived in New York with $100 and no GED, it was difficult to find work. His first job was as a design manager for Restoration Hardware, a position he lost after three months. Coincidentally, Thom Filicia, the design expert from the original Queer Eye, was filming in the store when Bobby was let go. During a Netflix special, Bobby commented to Thom how, at that moment, he had no idea he would one day take up his mantle.
After obtaining many jobs at home furnishing companies, Bobby worked his way up to become the Creative Director of Portico Home & Spa. When Portico failed, Bobby launched his own online store and, to his surprise, business boomed. He bought out a store run by one of his old employers and transformed it into his own retail in New York. This lead to other locations in Miami, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. Business ran so well, Bobby was able to repay his $600,000 debt in half a year.
Launching An Online Business
Bobby made the decision to revamp his business into an online brand called Bobby Berk. There, he shares his favorite retail items, renovation ideas, and dieting tips. His interior design business now operates online and just launched a 75 item collection of furniture in Asia that will be available in hundred of stores throughout the U.S. later this year.
Apart from running his own business, Bobby is joining the Fab Five in Philadelphia to film season five of Queer Eye. Season four will premier on Netflix July 19 with another special set in Japan airing later in 2019.
Remodeling His Future
Some may feel that Bobby doesn’t get the credit he deserves. But, sometimes, it’s what’s going on behind the scenes that matters most. Bobby’s story goes to prove that if a young boy can go from fighting hate, to living on the streets, to becoming a creative director with no GED, to running his own business and becoming a star, then there is hope for anyone who wishes to be an entrepreneur. All it takes is patience, persistence, and self-love.
How does Bobby Berk’s story inspire you? Let us know down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.
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